World famous assault rifle makers Izhmash and Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) have introduced new variants to their legendary rifles within months of one another. Izhmash's Kalashnikov and IWI's Uzi are the favorite weapons of dismounted soldiers and special forces. The IWI, after 56 years introduced the Uzi Pro sub-machine gun in November 2011 while two months later Izhmash introduced the latest addition to the Kalashnikov family, the AK-12. Introduced in January, Izhmash’s fifth generation rifle was designed to replace the ageing AK-74. The new variant is equipped with Picatinny rails to mount optical, and night sights, grenade launchers, target indicators and other special equipment. It also has three firing modes: single shot, three-shot burst and automatic fire and is designed to be used by both left-handed and right-handed people, and can be easily handled with one hand - the most significant change from its predecessors. The Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t shown as much interest, ordering only 100 rifles to be tested in-house. Meanwhile, its competitor the Uzi Pro has met with better reviews since its introduction, the original Uzi, the Pro uses a 9-mm caliber. Styled after the Tavor, the latest variant works with or without a silencer, and the bottom-half of the gun is made out of polymer to reduce weight. It retains the same blowback operated, closed bolt, select-fire action but with side-mounted bolt handle, and the most important change is the replacement of the older stamped steel trigger housing with more lightweight polymer pistol grip / trigger housing unit of more ergonomic shape. Like the AK-12, the Uzi Pro is designed for ambidextrous individuals and was improved on using modern ergonomic design. Past sales -- Some 5 million the AK-74 rifles have been built since the 1970’s with unlicensed copies produced in Bulgaria, East Germany and Romania. Besides former Soviet republics and eastern European countries, Mongolia, North Korean Special Forces, and Vietnamese People's Naval infantry use AK-74s. The Uzi, however, is twice as popular with over 10 million rifles currently in use in over 90 countries including India, France, Somalia, Iran, Israel and Zimbabwe among others. Online Reaction -- While weapons enthusiasts who’ve eagerly awaited the AK-12 agree that it possesses all the features of a western assault rifle, they have termed the latest Kalashnikov rifle "ugly". The firearmblog.com which details both rifles has its report on the AK-12 called the rifle
“downright ugly”. Meanwhile, the Uzi Pro has met with a more subdued reaction from the online community.